After the foolishness of bass ackwards day a few weeks ago, I welcomed the arrival of the semantically challenging Take a Father to School Day in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I call it semantically challenging because in the three or four years I've been aware of this 13-year tradition, it's been called "Take your Father to School Day" and "Take a Significant Male Figure to School Day". That latter one trips off the tongue. The problem, of course, is that in a big urban district, there will definitely be children who don't have an involved father to take to school. This year's official title was "Take a Father/Significant Male to School Day". One of my son's teachers took to calling us "male role models" to cover the grandfathers, uncles, pastors and coaches who filled the role for the day.
So, it's a tricky subject. The good news is that the number of men showing up at my kid's school grows every year. I last went when I was a first grade dad, joining about 75 significant males. This year, 150-200 men attended, which rocks pretty hard in a school of about 380. We had a very hard time fitting everyone on the front steps for the group photo. After some words from the principal and a dad and a video featuring Mike Tomlin (a Pittsburgh Public Schools parent) in the auditorium, we enjoyed some donuts and departed for our respective classrooms.
I appreciate the fact that my son's school doesn't turn TAFTSD into a carnival; some parents were talking about the field day that goes on at their school on this day. I prefer the chance to actually witness classroom activity, even though I know having a bunch of large men sitting in small chairs amidst the students changes the dynamic massively. In my son's class, there were 9-10 dads to about 20 kids for the morning hours that I was there. I've known some of his classmates since he was in kindergarten, so it's easy to watch out for kids who did not have a "dad" with them and have them join our little group. We played some of the math games they play at stations. Frankly, I dominated at the "24" station. James and Eddy didn't stand a chance, although Charlie ended up tying me in the end. In art class, there wasn't much for the dads to do, although I did see a dad totally do the project for his daughter who couldn't quite get it.
Next year, I'll be one of those dad splitting time between two students in the same school. In addition to the crop of classmates who know me as "Charlie's dad", I'll get to become "Teddy's dad" to a bunch of kids with even smaller chairs.
Editor's note: the post title and video are an homage to my brother, who called me excitedly last week after meeting Ed OG for his work at the Kroc Center in Boston. As he reminded me, the song features transcendent lyrics like "after a skeeze, there's responsibilities".
4 months ago